So you've got your PIP application form and you are ready to start writing your answers on the form. You've worked out what you can and cannot do in relation to each question, but have you considered how "reliably" you can perform the activities in question?
Today we are going to look at what "reliably" means in relation to the activities within PIP. Once you understand DWP definition of reliably, you will be better equipped to provide points winning answers to the questions on the form.
When it comes to PIP, points really do mean prizes!
Central to the ability to be able to do of all the activities within the PIP assessment is a consideration of the manner in which they are undertaken. For a descriptor/activity to be able to apply to a claimant, the claimant must be able to reliably complete the activity as described in the descriptor.
Considering reliability involves looking at whether the claimant can complete the activity as described:
This applies to every activity within the assessment. If an individual cannot reliably complete an activity in the way described in a descriptor then they should be considered unable to complete it at that level and a different descriptor selected.
For example when a claimant is only able to complete an activity safely when supervised, the appropriate descriptor which refers to supervision should be awarded.
Safely: Lets look at what safely means in the context of a PIP activity.
Safely means in a manner unlikely to cause harm to themselves or to another person, either during or after completion of the activity.
When considering whether an activity can be undertaken safely, it is necessary to consider the likelihood of harm occurring and the severity of the harm that might occur. We can use common sense to assess the balance between the risk of harm (likelihood of it occurring) and the severity of harm, in determining whether an activity can be done safely.
Where the severity of the harm is very high, then there will be a lower frequency of risk of harm for that claimant to be deemed unsafe carrying out the activity.
However, if the severity of harm is quite low, then the frequency of risk of harm must be higher (they need to be at risk for more of the time if the outcome would be less severe) for the claimant to be deemed unsafe in carrying out the activity.
The risk of harm occurring also has to be higher than that for a non- disabled person completing the same activity. For example, most individuals will occasionally burn or scald themselves slightly while cooking; you must consider whether the claimant is at a notably greater risk of burning or scalding themselves as a result of their health condition or impairment.
Harm includes damage to an individual’s health. For example if carrying out an activity could cause a substantial and sustained worsening of a claimant’s condition, meaning it is not safe for them to do it at all, the individual should not be considered able to complete the activity safely at the level described in the descriptor. Given the nature of the activities within the assessment this is likely to be rare.
The regularity with which any risk occurs is also important. For example, if an individual has forgotten to take their medication at times in the past but ordinarily manages to remember unaided there is unlikely to be a risk to their safety.
Even if the impact of the risk is significant, there must still be a real possibility that it will occur. For example, everyone is at risk of injury if they fall but for some the likelihood of falling is much higher, so the risk of injury occurring is higher. You must consider whether the risk of the harm and the severity of the harm that might occur are great enough to require continuous supervision for the duration of the task. Any risks presented by the claimant should be considered.
Lets take a look at some examples of where there could be risk of harm to the claimant or others;
Taking Nutrition (eating and drinking)
Managing therapy or monitoring a health condition
Washing and bathing
Managing toilet needs or incontinence
Engaging with other people face to face
Planning and following journeys
To an acceptable standard: This term is not defined in legislation, which means it should have its ordinary meaning, i.e. that activities should be carried out to a standard that is acceptable.
When considering acceptability there is clearly a range, from what is not perfect but is sufficient at one end, to an extremely high standard at the top end. In order for it to be acceptable, the standard which a claimant achieves must fall within this range. An ‘acceptable standard’ is one which is “good enough”.
Repeatedly: Repeatedly means as often as the activity being assessed is reasonably required to be completed.
How often the claimant needs to complete each activity is not specified. The HP should consider how often they would normally expect each activity to be completed, for example you would normally expect an individual to prepare food three times a day, but to heat food only once a day. An HPs should consider whether the person is completing an activity less often by choice or due to their disability. In most cases the HP should use this norm as a benchmark when considering whether the claimant can complete the activity repeatedly.
Some individuals may need to complete an activity more frequently as a result of their health condition or impairment. For example an individual with colitis may need to go to the toilet more frequently. In these cases the HP should consider whether it is reasonable for the individual to complete the activity more frequently as a result of their health condition or impairment, and if so what the reasonable number of times is in their individual case. It should then be considered whether or not the claimant is able to complete the activity that number of times.
Where the act of completing the activity means the individual is unable to repeat the activity again, within a period when they could reasonably be expected to do so, they are likely to be considered as not completing the activity repeatedly.
For example, an individual can prepare their breakfast, but the exertion of doing so leaves them exhausted and they are unable to prepare their lunch as a result, but by the evening they have recovered enough to prepare an evening meal. Because, after preparing breakfast, you would reasonably expect someone to be able to prepare a meal again by lunchtime, in this example the individual cannot be considered able to complete the activity repeatedly.
Consideration should also be given to whether an individual is able to repeat a task on subsequent days. For example an individual may be able to fulfil the ‘Moving around’ criteria one day, but the exertion of doing so means they are unable to do so the following day. When considering repeatability over longer periods of days and weeks, the HP should apply the rules governing fluctuating conditions and consider which descriptor applies on the majority of days in that period (See our earlier post on fluctuating conditions and seasonal variability here pip-seasonal-variability-of-health-conditions )
Symptoms such as pain, fatigue and breathlessness should be considered when determining whether an activity can be carried out repeatedly. While these symptoms may not necessarily stop the claimant carrying out the activity in the first instance, they may be an indication that it cannot be done as often as is reasonably required. Members of the Fibromyalgia groups we provide advice and support to, should find this piece of information and the following examples especially relevant.
The following situations highlight examples where an individual may be considered unable to repeatedly complete a descriptor in the way described due to the impact this would have:
In a reasonable time period: Reasonable time period means no more than twice as long as the maximum period that a non-disabled person would normally take to complete that activity.
The following situations highlight examples where an individual may be considered unable to complete a descriptor in a reasonable time period due to their approach or the impact their health condition or impairment has on them:
If you have got this far, you will now have a better understanding of what needs to be considered before somebody can be assessed as being able to do a specific PIP activity or descriptor.
Understanding the above principles and applying them to the answers you give both on your PIP application form and during your face to face assessment will go a long way towards making sure you get the PIP award that is correct for you and your circumstances.
How do I use this information?
Before you decide whether you can do the activity that you are being asked about, simply ask yourself these questions;
When you provide an answer to the the question of whether you can do something, please ensure that you include the answers to all of the above questions.
So, now you have read this article, do you still think you can do the activities in the PIP application form in a "Reliable manner"?
Hopefully this information will allow more people to write better answers in their PIP forms and provide better answers to the questions they are asked at PIP assessments.
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Stay Strong and think "Reliably"